Lifespan of Roofing Screws?

Hi, I was wondering if anyone had an idea of the lifespan of roofing screws, and specifically the rubber gasket or washer? They seem to be hardening up, about 20 years old. A few have come lose, typical. A few minor leaks as well.

They sure don’t last live the metal roofing, that’s for sure.

Narrate them out as needed.

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Looks like you answered your own question… that product, applied by that contractor, in that climate, under those conditions… approximately 20 years considering other factors do not come into play over the next 20 years of the replacement screws lives.

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Like said, hardened gasket and loose screws are one of several issues that plague steel roofs with exposed fasteners. Sun, heat, and snow slide are not kind to the fasteners.

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To be honest, I never heard of screw down metal roof screw failure. Typically the life expectancy is on the roof in general, not the screws. In general metal roofing use zinc plated screws which will be referred to as galvanized screws.

Common failure and inspecting these fasteners should be part of a metal roof evaluation. Replacing screws is a common maintenance action. They even make a special tapered screw for the “spinners”.

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Tip: Loose screws are also a problem. If you can spin the washer with your fingers, the screw is loose. Another common error is leaving the screw tailings (shavings from self drilling screws) atop the metal surface which will lead to pitting or corrosion resulting in pin-holes that leak. A good metal roof install will include blowing off the roof.

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I see this often Brian on commercial roofs.

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Yeah, sadly they do not give a crap. Mechanical contractors are also notorious for leaving shavings, tailings or metal bits/pieces on top of metal, TPO or PVC which can lead to degradation or damage. I call it out every time.

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Here’s your first chance then to hear @ryoung7 . What I’ve seen is the rubber hardens up, sure, but the next step is that water intrudes into the screw hole and start to soften the wood. The replacement screw must be longer, fatter, or the hole must be reinforced with Smith’s Epoxy and/or wood glue and fiber.

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That would be washer failure leading to water intrusion.

Everything today is “short-term” pleasures, one-time use, replacement society. Be happy if anything made recently lasted 20 years!

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Hi Robert, I do not think I have ever seen a metal roof without screw failures, even on a newer roof. See Brian Cawhern’s excellent response. Usually it is due to being under, or over driven, screws. Even with adjustable torque, it takes a few before you get it dialed in right, and the angle and underlying material can change it up - not too much to squish out the gasket, not too little where it is not snug.

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Excellent response Brian, as always. Quite the attention to detail on the shavings, I think I have seen that before I started inspecting, for whatever reason it is rare in a desert climate. It sure isn’t because of quality workmanship :laughing: If someone walks on them it could damage the finish.

Thank you for the tip on the tapered repair screw.

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Thanks JJ. Only a few over driven or loose out of thousands, but all of the washers have hardened.

I called up the manufacturer, they warranty the panels, but not the screws. With good maintenance, the panels should easily last 50 years, I think over a hundred is possible.

We would use a drywall screw gun with a torque setting for the new guys who didn’t have the “feel” for it. After a few thousand screws, you no longer need a torque setting, it all becomes second nature.

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In years of inspecting in Oregon I only found the exposed metal screw roofs a few times but in Hawaii they are super common (and usually leak). OP - I think there’s a lot of variation depending on climate and sun exposure. Like anything, just inspect it and report on deficiencies. The thing that always gets me with these is how does one go about sealing or replacing the screws? Those panels certainly don’t hold up well to foot traffic and often have very minimal framing under them (again, Hawaii where there is no snow load built in).

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A few year ago I noticed rusting screw head on my trailer (with metal panel siding). I bought several bags of the same type screw from the trailer hardware store. I removed every one, dipped each screw in painters caulk and replaced them. So probably a similar process could work for a metal roof. You might want to use a different sealant. I believe they sell a color matched sealant at the roofing supply house that matches the panels. Maybe that would work.

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Good idea, the drywall screw guns have more torque settings.

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Hi, Paul.
Hope to find you well.

I got a little confused with the OP’s post. "Life span of Roofing Screws.

Mostly standing seam metal roof’s in my neck of the woods.
As for other metal roofing system, fasteners are hidden. Clips retain metal sheets.
When I do run across exposed screw fasteners I look at washer for ware, is the fastener perpendicular and corrosion, but typically in the metal roof’s I inspect, trim and metal sheeting hide fasteners.

That is understandable Robert. Very few standing seams here, most are exposed fasteners. Used to see metal roof nails, but been about 15 years since I have seen that on an older shed.